Considering a family vacation on Lake Garda, Northern Italy? The area certainly has something for everyone. Gardaland is a Disneyland-like amusement park the kids will love. The picturesque small towns on the lake invite leisurely strolls along their promenades and great shopping. History buffs find castles, forts, piazzas and battlegrounds galore, with Roman, Renaissance and Risorgimento architecture present practically everywhere. And the inexpensive trains from Desenzano or Sirmione can take you to Milan, Brescia, Verona, Padua and Venice in a maximum of two hours.
One problem in planning the family vacation on Lake Garda is choosing accommodation. Not that there aren’t lovely hotels on and near the lake. There are hundreds. Some, however, for instance those in the noisy center of town, or those smallish romantic, quaint hotels catering to couples, are not ideal for children. Others are quite expensive.
‘Agriturismo’ Farm Holidays near Lake Garda
Italy tours, with a different hotel every night, are not conducive to happy offspring, and Italian vacation rentals are often overpriced, especially during the summer. The solution is the ‘agriturismo’. ‘Agriturismi’ are working farms that have been re-modernized through subsidies from the Italian government, in order to provide more accommodation to tourists, especially families. ‘Agriturismi’ are located all around Lake Garda (and elsewhere in Italy).
They offer a variety of solutions…basic single and double rooms or small apartments with kitchens. Their bylaws state that at least one meal a day must also be available. And homemade original farm products, such as cheeses, salami, honey, pickled veggies and marmalades, must be offered for sale. Often, the simple fare in many ‘agriturismi’ dining rooms could compete with some of the pricier restaurants lakeside. The farm owners cook and serve, and meals are natural and cooked on site. Some ‘agriturismi’ are also wineries. Their owners proudly serve their special wines.
But most of all, children love staying on farms. They have room to run, there are animals to befriend, and Mom and Dad are not shushing them constantly.
‘Agriturismi’, The Best Place to Stay for Families Visiting Lake Garda
The Farmers’ Association (Coldiretti Brescia) of the Province of Brescia has organized these farms into The Lombardy Terranostra Association, with more than fifty ‘agriturismi’ members in the province of Brescia, including ten on the western shore of Lake Garda. The association’s mission is to publicize and spread the idea of farm vacations and to promote a new, more balanced synergy between the environment, the territory, tourism and agriculture.
The association publishes wonderfully detailed, small maps of the territory with pictures of all of the ‘agriturismi’ in the area, and through their main office in Brescia, handles inquiries about specific ‘agriturismi’.
The Sercola ‘Agriturismo’…A Gourmet Farm Holiday
To highlight just one, La Sercola ‘agriturismo’ is an old, typical farmhouse not far from the shore of Lake Garda, near Salo and San Felice del Benaco , in the southwest corner of Lake Garda . Once housing many generations, the farmhouse has been re-modernized to offer some tourist accommodation, but still has the atmosphere of a working farm. It sits in the center of an olive grove. From the olive grove, the views of the lake and the Alps to the north are spectacular.
The proprietors of the Sercola ‘agriturismo’ farm have been producing olive oil and wine for more than a century . Their olive oil is special, light and very digestible. Their wines are typical Garda varieties …Groppello, Chiaretto, Trebbiano and Marzemino. Lunch or dinner in their dining room is plentiful and delicious, healthy food prepared well. Often featured is the famous Brescian ‘spiedo’, a mixed grill of sausage, chicken, pork and beef with polenta.
Wines and Skydiving at the Le Panizze ‘Agriturismo’
Another member of the ‘agriturismo’ association, Le Panizze, is between Lonato and Sirmione, not far from the southern shore of the lake. It offers five rooms, plus one with a loft, at quite reasonable prices… Euro 30 for a single room, Euro 50 for a double. Children under five stay free, and those over five receive a fifty percent discount
Le Panizze is a working farm specializing in milk cows. All of the other typical farmyard animals children love…chickens, ducks, rabbits…are present as well. The proprietors, the Girelli’s, also own acres of vineyards. Their grapes become the famous Lake Garda wines Lugana, S.Martino della Battaglia white, Merlot, and Garda classico. This ‘agriturismo’ is unique in that adjacent to it is a small airfield, from which skydiving sessions with instructors can be booked.
The farms offering farm holidays near Lake Garda are the family’s perfect base for discovering all of this fascinating territory. English is spoken in most ‘agriturismi’.
Before you go, read up on the fascinating cities in Northern Italy, all within a couple of hours from Lake Garda.